Challenging the master narrative of modern Turkey. Alevi life experiences of religious and political engagement

A webinar with Hege Markussen, postdoc researcher in the history of religions at Lund University.

Please, sign up to Catharina Raudvere,

In this seminar I will present a four-year project starting in August 2021. The project has a two-fold aim.

On one hand, it is an ethnographical study of Alevi life experiences in light of religious and political engagement in Turkey. It focuses on the life and family stories of Alevi families, enabling analysis of diverse life experiences based on gender and generation. Alevi studies have, to a high extent, produced knowledge of “the alevi” – a normative, gender- and age-less person, diversified according to other lines, such as rural-urban, leadership-lay, traditional-contemporary. With a new perspective on diversity of Alevi life experiences, I expect this project to advance the study of Alevis towards further complexities.

On the other hand, the project rests on the premise that new perspectives on Turkey's religious and political developments emerge through the study of individual life and family stories and by analysing central societal processes through the specific experiences of an exposed minority. As such, the project aims to include experiences of the Alevi population in Turkey in a critical analysis of the master narrative of Turkish history as a struggle between a secularist state and a religious, inherently rural, population. Alevi religious and political engagement is given marginal importance in analyses of religious and political contentions in the history of modern Turkey.  Bringing Alevi experiences to the fore within the general history of modern Turkey, is significant for the understanding of the history of a country in the state of increasing religious, political and social polarization.